IELTS Academic and General Training| Differences/Similarities

There are two IELTS exams? The two formats of the exam are called IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. And there are few differences.

Breakdown of Academic IELTS vs General Training IELTS largely comes down into

  • Purpose
  • Format and
  • Content

IELTS Academic and General Training versions are similar in format, but differ in content in the Writing and Reading sections of the test.

This post contains the breakdown of the major differences and similarities between the IELTS Academic and General Training

Also this post contains an IELTS General and Academic score comparison.

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IELTS Academic and General Training| Differences

In Purpose:

Academic IELTS

It might be obvious to you that the Academic IELTS is intended for (prospective) university students applying for admission in universities and programs in which English is the medium of instruction.

Also many professionals and job applicants are also required to provide scores of IELTS for this version of the test.

For example is medical work. To be a medical professional in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, you will definitely need to sit the Academic IELTS.

A wide range of medical jobs require this version of the exam, including doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and even hospital lab technician.

Unlike the general training version, the academic version allows test takers to demonstrate some reading and writing skills that aren’t necessarily part of the everyday communicative experience of English speakers.

These are considered to be distinct from reading and writing skills for general purposes.

General Training IELTS

For immigration and employment, the general training version is used if you want to enter Canada, the USA, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, etc. for general immigration.

For example, individuals who are taking the IELTS because they are applying for permission to live in Australia near their spouse will find that the General Training IELTS suits their needs.

Note: The test is not just used for immigration. Multinational corporations sometimes use General Training IELTS scores to assess the English ability of their workers.

In Format:

For Skills

Both versions of the test have the same general format. Your English writing, reading, listening, and speaking skills will be tested separately no matter which version you take.

In fact, there aren’t any differences between the listening and speaking sections at all.

In format, the same is true of the other two sections. Both writing versions involve two writing tasks and both reading versions ask 40 questions in response to assigned readings. 

Differences begin to appear, however, in the nature of the content and task types, which we move on to now.

In Content:


University students and professionals must be equipped with English reading skills that are strong enough for texts in professional and academic journals, textbooks, and relevant magazines and newspapers.

As such, the Academic IELTS uses texts taken directly from these kinds of sources to test comprehension skills. Similarly, the writing tasks specific to this version use sample topics that would be relevant in academic and professional settings.

English writing skills will be assessed to make sure they are strong enough to write college-level essays.


Those taking the General Training IELTS, on the other hand, will encounter the kind of language that would appear in advertisements, guidebooks, magazines, notices, or what working people might encounter in employee manuals.

A test taker’s written English will be tested on general tasks such as letter writing or basic essay writing

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training | Similarities

Funny enough, the two different types of IELTS (AT and GT) are more similar than they are different. They each have the same very basic format.

Also, there are Listening and Reading sections with 40 questions each and 60 minutes each in both training.

A Writing section with two tasks, and an IELTS Speaking interview.

If you want to measure the similarities in percentage, you can say that AT and GT IELTS are roughly 70% similar in content for exam.

Exam malpractice, Reasons

IELTS General and Academic| Score Comparison

You will notice that the biggest difference between these two versions of the IELTS test is the way that they’re scored. Noted, IELTS Listening, Speaking, and Writing are scored the same way on both exams. But IELTS Reading, which represents a full 25% of your score, is rated very differently on academic and IELTS general training.

For example, suppose you get 30 out of 40 answers correct in IELTS Reading, also known as a raw score of 30. In general training reading, that’s an IELTS Band of 5.0. But 30 out of 40 gets you a 6.0 in academic reading. Your raw scores have a totally different meaning depending on whether you’re looking at the IELTS academic or general test!